Ruth Hogan's debut novel is about lost objects, second chances and endless possibilities. She tells us about the books that are currently in her life.
The Landscape of Farewell by Alex Miller, because it’s my Book Club’s latest choice, Nigel, My Family and Other Dogs, because dogs are a huge part of my life, and Collected Poems by John Betjeman, because this book is my comfort blanket.
Asylum with photographs by Christopher Payne and an essay by Oliver Sacks. This is an astonishingly beautiful, haunting and heart-breaking book recording the histories of abandoned asylums across the United States. I’d recommend it, because its subject matter is something that many people would instinctively shy away from. But this book is a work of art and provides some surprising insights into the state hospitals that were not always places of horror and abuse, but also of true asylum and a refuge for those who were unable to cope in the outside world.
I’d also recommend Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – a coming-of-age story of a thirteen-year-old boy, set in Western Australia in the 1960s. It reminds me of both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, but having said that, it’s a true original and an absolute joy to read.
Plague Land by S D Sykes. I don’t read very much historical fiction, but this book sounds intriguing and has been highly recommended to me.
I’ve Lived In East London for 86 and a half Years by Joseph Markovitch with photographs by Martin Usborne. This little book is an absolute gem printed by Hoxton Mini Press. It is a series of photographs taken of Joseph by Usborne, coupled with Joseph’s thoughts on life, love and living in the East End of London for 86 and a half years. I’ve read it many times and it always makes me smile.
Finally, if I’m going to London, an A to Z. I’ve got no sense of direction whatsoever and I can never get Google Maps to work on my phone!
The Keeper of Lost Things is a love story, a ghost story and a mystery. Anthony Peardew, once a celebrated author of short stories, has a secret. He has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
When he dies, he leaves his house and all its hidden treasures to his assistant, Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the lost objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a series of unexpected and serendipitous encounters.
The inspiration for The Keeper of Lost Things came from two news articles; one about the weird and wonderful things that end up in lost property departments, and the other about what happens to human cremation remains when they are not collected from the funeral directors. I was also intrigued by the life of a former neighbour who became a reclusive hoarder after the sudden death of his young fiancée.
My dogs, who listen patiently and occasionally nudge me sympathetically, when I’m wrangling with a particularly tricky plotline. My wonderful agent who always has sage advice, and my dear friend Peter who owns an antiquarian bookshop and who also writes. He has been by my side throughout my long and bumpy journey to publication, providing a shoulder to cry on, a sounding-board for ideas, a voice of reason, numerous research books and endless cups of tea.
Morning’s At Seven by Eric Malpass. I was hooked from the very first line, which has stayed with me ever since I first read it. It’s a charming story, beautifully told, but with hidden depths. Eric Malpass created a world where I wanted to go and live. I wanted his characters to be my family, and when I finished reading it for the first time, I felt lost without them. His writing appears effortless, but is immensely skilful; both comic and tragic in turn. He inspired me to want to create magic with words.
A complete pain in the butt. Writing keeps me sane!